New research indicates that hand sanitizers based on alcohol disinfectants are not sufficient to eliminate certain superbugs, also known as antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
These superbugs can lead to harmful infections in hospitals and now are gaining increasingly more resistance to alcohol-based hand sanitizers designed to hold them in check.
In the new study of what the scientists involved in the research described as a “new wave of superbugs,” the research team also identified some specific genetic mutations in Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococcus, or VRE, over the course of 20 years.
VRE infection can trigger urinary tract, injury and bloodstream infections which are significantly complicated to cure, primarily because they are immune to various classes of antibiotics.
In their struggle to tackle the rise in superbugs, such as VRE or Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA), institutions all over the world have introduced stringent sanitation standards, frequently involving hand rubs and the use of alcohol disinfectants.
Superbugs turning resistant to alcohol disinfectants
The researchers analyzed 139 isolated bacterial samples from two Melbourne hospitals, gathered from 1997 up until 2015, and examined how well each of them managed to resist exposure to diluted isopropyl alcohol.
They discovered that the samples that were taken after 2009 were more resistant to alcohol than those collected prior to 2004.
Afterward, scientists scattered the bacteria over the floors of mice’ cages and determined that alcohol-resistant specimens were more prone to penetrating and proliferating into the mice’s viscera even after the researchers cleaned the cages’ floors with a substance based on the isopropyl alcohol.
As the co-author of the study, Paul Johnson, a professor of infectious diseases at the Austin Health in Australia reported, the results should not cause a significant decrease in the regular use of alcohol disinfectants.
“Alcohol-based hand sanitizing wipes are international pillars of hospital infection control and remain very effective in reducing the transmission of other hospital superbugs, particularly MRSA,” said Paul Johnson.